Domicile is another term for residence: the place where a person intends to make their home. Michigan law provides that a parent may not change a child’s residence outside of this state absent the consent of the other parent or an order of the court. The law further provides that “a parent of a child whose custody is governed by court order shall not change a legal residence of the child to a location that is more than 100 miles from the child’s legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action in which the order is issued.” This applies only if the parents have joint legal custody.

To change the child’s residence outside of Michigan or more than 100 miles within the state requires court action when the other parent is opposed. The statute provides that in ruling on a motion to change domicile, “the court shall consider each of the following factors, with the child as the primary focus in the court’s deliberations:

  1. Whether the legal residence change has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent.
  2. The degree to which each parent has complied with, and utilized his or her time under, a court order governing parenting time with the child, and whether the parent’s plan to change the child’s legal residence is inspired by that parent’s desire to defeat or frustrate the parenting time schedule.
  3. The degree to which the court is satisfied that, if the court permits the legal residence change, it is possible to order a modification of the parenting time schedule and other arrangements governing the child’s schedule in a manner that can provide an adequate basis for preserving and fostering the parental relationship between the child and each parent; and whether each parent is likely to comply with the modification.
  4. The extent to which the parent opposing the legal residence change is motivated by a desire to secure a financial advantage with respect to a support obligation.
  5. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.”

The burden of proof is on the moving party.